Never Alone

The Inuit crowd

What good are old stories if the wisdom they contain is not shared? That’s the question posed by some of the creative minds behind this 2D platformer, which offers depth the likes of which is rarely seen in these pages.

To many of us, Never Alone appears to be nothing but a game built using the same template as Limbo or max: The curse Of brotherhood. Not that there’s anything wrong with that indeed, it’s an exceedingly impressive grouping of games to be associated with. It’s the story of a young girl named Nuna and her Arctic fox companion, who together must journey to the top of the world to conquer a never-ending blizzard that threatens to wipe out Nuna’s people.

In single-player, environmental puzzles require you to control both characters: at one point you’ll need to wall-jump up to a high ledge with the more acrobatic vulpine and knock down a ramp in order for Nuna to progress, for instance.

Alternatively, you’ll be able to go one better than Limbo or max by playing cooperatively to overcome these conundrums with a friend.

Freeze company

To the Alaskan Iñupiaq community, however, Never Alone is much more than just a piece of entertainment. “The game celebrates and shares Alaska Native culture with the world through gameplay,” creative director Sean Vesce tells us. “We eventually agreed upon the selection of the traditional story ‘Kunuuksaayuka’ as the primary inspiration for the game. The story revolves around an endless blizzard that has put a village on the brink of disaster as the people can’t go out to hunt or fish or gather food. One day, a young protagonist decides to brave the blizzard, try to find its source, and restore balance back to nature so the people can be saved.”

With the youngest generation of Iñupiaq so invested in gaming, Alaska Native storytellers partnered with Upper One to create an experience that not only entertains but acts as a conduit for their ancient tales, too. That their legend will not only be handed down to new members of the community but be shared with the entire world is no bad thing when it comes to the story’s posterity.

And it won’t end with Never Alone, either: publisher e-Line media labels this as the first entry in a genre it’s calling ‘World Games’’. As Vesce puts it, “We believe that, through inclusive and participatory development, we can extend this model of games based on the traditional stories of unique human cultures to new stories, new cultures, and new types of game genres.” Now there’s an Achievement worth working for.

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